Videogames: a teacher’s best friend

Or at least, video games should be a teacher’s best friend. An article on The Conversation today does a great job of explaining how games could be great for education, and why ‘educational games’ aren’t crossing that gap.

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Superbetter

Jane McGonigal is the doyenne of gamification (adding game elements to things that aren’t traditionally games).

Today a friend suggested I check out her video below. It’s been great for putting a bit more perspective into my point of view. She uses evidence and a great presentation style to show how she’s used game ideas to recover from a serious injury and the mental health after-effects. Take a look for yourself:

As she mentions in the video, McGonigal’s also used what she’s learned to make an online game for people to use for their own self-improvement: SuperBetter. Let me know if you try it out – it would be great to see you on there.

Minecraft: a textbook teaching tool

Earlier this year, the Atlantic published a great, if academically written, article on the value of the game Minecraft as a teaching game.

This idea isn’t new – some New Zealand kids convinced their teachers that Minecraft was the best tool for redesigning their classrooms back in 2012 – but it’s powerful. A game like this offers a heap of benefits for classrooms, including giving kids the ability to:

  • design environments, both freely or to a teacher’s specifications
  • work collaboratively on a big, real goal
  • create without real world limitations on environments – cloud houses that are only accessible by waterfall are alarmingly common in the games I’ve played
  • create as a group without having to fight for materials

If you’re working with kids at all, the story is worth a look. Just be prepared to forgive the author for phrases like “Visuospatial reasoning is the basis for more abstract forms of knowledge like the ability to evaluate whether a conclusion logically follows from its premises.” Minecraft is worth the pain.